Almost back to back last week I had it pointed out to me — hugely, insanely — that my Freak Magnet, which I had been thinking was undertaking a hiatus, was still wide awake and ready for action.
So, here we go…
I was in Tacoma. Had some time to kill, and popped by a bookshop. Love me some bookshops. Shopped around a bit, bought an Evelyn Waugh I hadn’t read, and set off again to continue working.
Now, as it occasionally happens in Tacoma, it was raining. Pissing rain, in fact. I scurried out to my car, hopped in, programmed my GPS for my next stop, and put the car in reverse. I was parked between two pickups. Between them and the downpour, I inched backward out of my space; cautiously, gently. When I could see around the trucks, I noticed there was a Volvo waiting at the end of the aisle, presumably for my parking space. I wheeled around, allowing it ample space to angle around me, and started forward. That’s when I looked over at the driver.
She was in her mid-twenties, brown-haired, bespectacled, and screaming at me. I mean SCREAMING, man. Frothing at the mouth. Spittle flying against the windows. Complete and total RAGE creasing her face. Her outburst was so energetic, so ugly, I was taken aback. She gunned the Volvo by and hurtled into the space I had vacated.
And I was, well, just kind of sitting there. Just sitting there and wondering what I possibly might’ve done to cause this girl uncork such a colossal gout of invective. So, I thought I’d ask her.
I reversed back down the aisle until I was idling behind her car. She glared at me in her rearview mirror. I made a little gesture at her, like “C’mere for a sec.” She climbed from the car. I stuck my head out into the rain.
“Excuse me,” I said. “What did I do to make you so angry?”
Her glare deepened. “Just drive on, Sir,” she growled.
“No,” I said. “But wait. Why are you —”
“Fuck off you cocksucker!” she screamed, showing me the middle fingers on both of her hands. “Fuck off! I’ll fucking kill you, motherfucker!! I’ll fucking kick your ass!! Get the FUCK out!!”
Holy shit. I was staring at her with my mouth open. But only for a second. I do, as it happens, have my limits.
“You know what?” I hollered back. “Go fuck yourself, you ugly cunt.”
And here is where it all got really weird.
Another voice, female, some woman lurking outside my field of vision, chimed in.
“Hey! Don’t you call her that!”
If the newcomer was close enough to have heard me call the crazy woman a cunt, she had surely been close enough to have heard the crazy woman’s original diatribe. But, in true SeaTac lefty bullshit fashion, I was the asshole since I was the one who had uttered the dreaded “C” word.
I scanned around for a form to go with the face, found nothing, and, dropping my car into “drive” and hitting the gas, shouted “Fuck you too, you goddamn crazy bitch!”
I still have no idea, no idea at all, what I did to instigate the thing. For the next hour and a half, I churned it over in my head, and still nothing. But then it hit me.
And now, the Second Baffling Occurrence.
I was in, of all places, the scenic hamlet of Hays, KS. Population: Who Cares.
I needed to stop off at a convenience store for gas and coffee. Filled up and went inside. Wandered the store for a time, just to see if anything yummy wanted me to free it from its stultifying Life on the Shelf. Turned out, one thing did. Right up by the impulse items. They were selling those peanut-butter eggs from Easter at fifty-cents a pop. And I loves me some peanut-butter eggs. Grabbed two, dropped them with my extra-massive cup of joe on the counter, and extracted wallet from pocket.
The woman manning the counter was probably, I dunno, thirty. Give or take a tricky pregnancy or two.
She rang-up my purchases, then paused. She held one of the peanut-butter eggs in her hand.
“Are you sure you want this?” she asked.
“Oh, how come?” I responded. “Are they that far out of date?”
“No,” she said, “but…”
And she drifted off, gesturing in a general sort of way at my (admittedly rather acutely striking) girth. She was, I gathered, suggesting a weight-loss stratagem.
“Really?” I said, my eyes going all wide and sort of buggy.
“Well…” she murmured.
“Are you actually suggesting that I — a total stranger — might be too fat to purchase that candy?”
“I’m just trying to be helpful,” she said stiffly.
“Really. Trying to be helpful.” I think my voice had taken on a somewhat…well…steely aspect. “Here’s an idea,” I continued. “Your ass is the size of a fucking foot-stool, so how about you work on that, and mind your own fucking business.”
The rest of our interaction passed in total silence.
So, anyway… Not sure why I encounter people like these two, but there it is.
The Freak Magnet, folks. Damn.
Oh, and by the way, I ate those motherfucking peanut-butter eggs. And they were fuckin’ yummy.